What is formal learning

Anyone who deals with further education is inevitably confronted with the different forms of education - formal, non-formal and informal. Good for those who have never got lost in this jungle of terms. The current further education study "Adult Education Survey 2012" helps with a pleasantly simple graphic and because the entire study is published under the Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA, it can be used, changed and distributed.

An overview of the forms of education


Further education behavior in Germany, issuing institution: German Institute for Adult Education (DIE) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. source

To formal education the primary and secondary level as well as the tertiary education sector belong to Germany; in addition to universities, these include technical colleges and vocational academies. Formal education is usually organized full-time courses that build on one another. An additional criterion is one Position in the National Qualifications Framework as well as a minimum duration of 6 months. Thus, for example, the master craftsman training or the training to become a certified business administrator belongs to the area of ​​formal education, although strictly speaking it is further training.

Non-formal education includes all organized teaching / learning settings, the Not Are included in the National Qualifications Framework. According to the definition in the "Adult Education Survey 2012", page 19, essential characteristics are:

A minimum of organization - a provider of the event can be identified, the event has a defined learning objective and a curriculum, the beginning and the end are determined.

So it concerns all educational offers that we commonly call further education, whereby in the further education study the distinction is still made according to:

  • in-company training
  • individual job-related further education
  • non-job-related continuing education

is hit. This segmentation is important for a more detailed analysis of the individual segments, but not necessary for the basic definition of non-formal education.

Under informal learning eventually becomes any form of self-organized learning understood, provided there is one Learning intention in front. From my point of view, there is an essential difference to the definition of “random learning” or “natural learning” that is sometimes used.

The jungle of terms could thus be easily disentangled if all those involved could agree on the definitions of the “Adult Education Survey 2012”.

The entire study on “Training behavior in Germany” can be downloaded free of charge from W. Bertelsmann Verlag.